Tuesday, December 3, 2013

FAQ: About Adoption

I’m feeling a bit confused by all the pictures of the small (and remarkably adorable) chocolate baby on your blog/facebook/etc, and also Zack . . . What is going on: have you adopted one or both of these children? If not, then what-in-the-actual-heck is the situation with them? Also, I thought you said you guys were going to adopt - is this still the plan?

Let me begin with an assurance that I completely understand your confusion. Things can get a little hectic around the Stanley Clan, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Even for me, and I live here.

Anyhow, the easy answer to your question is this: no, we have not adopted (or have plans to adopt) either Amir or Zack. Amir’s beautiful momma is still in high school, and sometimes we watch him while she goes to school. Occasionally, he spends the night with us, because she begs for a break. And this momma understands full well the need for a break. For rest, for sleep with both eyes closed, and strength to face a full day of work or school or simply putting one foot in front of the other.
Zack lives with his mom, baby sister, and grandma. He goes to school there, and typically spends the weekends at our house. He has his own room here; although when I say “Zack’s room,” please understand that this room encompasses also an office, Maverick’s (the dog) room, as well as a corral for all manner of other sports gear, junk, extra snacks, etc. Poor Zack. The other day I made him watch an episode of Hoarders with me, just so he would feel better about the state of his room at our house: See Zack? No cat skeletons, let’s call it a win!

Adam and I have discovered a surprising comfortability with living right there in the tension between ours and not-ours. Often, we will engage in conversations with people about how we want to foster. Typically, the person we’re talking to will say something like oh I’ve always wanted to foster, but I just wouldn’t ever be able to give the babies back. That’s too hard. And because I am a people pleaser/conflict-avoider of epic proportions, I typically nod my head in understanding and murmur something along the lines of oh yes that would be entirely too hard.

But here’s the take-a-deep-breath truth: Just because something’s hard, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

Caden’s surgery and time in the hospital taught us, stretched us, and ultimately strengthened us, more than any other period of my life. Including kindergarten, and all four years of college. But perhaps the biggest lesson I walked through during that time was this one: there are no guarantees.

It becomes far easier to give our babies back when we recognize they were never ours to begin with. We can never really know how long we have to invest in these lives. Jayci, Caden, Amir, Zack, and every single kid who walks through my door is a gift. Offered extravagantly to me by the author of the Universe. And therefore, I will treat each reverently and love each deeply, recognizing them as such.

I’m not saying everyone should be a foster parent. Quite honestly, I’m not even sure we will ever officially become foster parents at this point. I do know this, as long as God keeps crossing our paths with kiddos and babies and teenagers who need a loving place to eat and maybe even sleep: we will continue to live with our doors flung wide. Maybe not even because they need us, but because we need them. Because without them, without the marginalized, the fatherless, the least-of-these; I have a terrible propensity towards selfishness, towards easy.

Last week, we had Amir for three days and two nights. Two very long, very sleepless nights. On night number two, I sat in our dark bedroom, bouncing lightly at the foot of the bed while Adam slept deep. Moonlight and streetlights co-mingled in stripes streaming through bamboo blinds. Amir’s tiny brown eyes finally closed, lashes on cheeks, and his fists unfurled. I lay him gently back down, climbing under covers to warm my toes. And just when my own eyes flutter shut, I hear his little grunts, the ones that quickly accelerate to cries. I pop back up and resume my bed-end perch.

The thought flits into my mind before I can stop it: I shouldn’t be doing this. I deserve my sleep. I’m not the irresponsible teenager who had a baby I can’t take care of.

I look around the dark room, realizing how far I’ve fallen from my high horse and trying desperately to clamber back up. Forgetting, of course, that no one finds grace atop her high horse.
It’s only when I bend low to sit rocking a bundled baby in the dark. Only then do I encounter the grace in a posture reminding me both of who I am and who He is. In the sweet hush of a dark room, holding an infant, I remember the infant-king who came enrobed in feeble flesh to save mine. I remember that it cannot be her bad choices and my good ones. Instead, we clasp hands and face a broken world together because we both make bad choices every day. We both sin and groan to give birth to new life that comes in the most unexpected ways.

And so I grasp lightly the gifts God gives us for the seasons we have them. We pull an extra chair up to the table and forgo sleep for a night or two. We wash the smell of grease and cigarettes from Amir’s baby curls and drive Zack thirty minutes to school because he missed the bus and has a test. I worry less about enabling and hard-lines-in-the-sand, and more about loving with the kind of love that enters in. I ignore the voices that whisper it is too hard. Because of course it leans hard; the cross was never intended for easy. We bend low, and meet our Savior there. Every single time.

O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden house
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

35 comments:

  1. This was so beautiful and I needed it today. I'm sure there are a lot of us who needed it today. It is worth it to do HARD things.... but we too can become weary. Thanks for the encouragement! Wish we lived closer and could have coffee dates. :)

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    1. I love you friend! You're doing a good work (also, ditto on the coffee date wish).

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  2. Tears. I love you. Praying for strength to keep loving like Jesus. xoxoxo

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    1. And I feel the same way towards you my friend :-) Also, we are starting a mommy class for all the teenage-mommies in our neighborhood and I'm totally giving them your book!

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  3. Well, not to play the advocate or anything...but, as a social worker, I see where the foster kids return. And I see heartbreak everywhere. I see the heartbreak of the foster families and I see the heartbreak of the children's own birth parents who can not give the babies the same life the foster family can. It breaks my heart quite honestly. Fostering is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure.

    I am glad you do what you can. I love that you so wholeheartedly welcome people into your midst. Your love is amazing. I am glad God has given you so much to share.

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    1. Oh I so so so agree, which is why I said not everyone should be a foster parent :-) also, it breaks my heart too. And I love you and your heart and what you do!

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  4. Beautiful words once again Becca!

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  5. This was such a blessing for me. Confirmation for my family's future. I might just print this one out.

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    1. Thanks Tosha, also I want to hear about your future and plans! hope you're well!

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  6. Have you heard of Safe Families for Children? We our Safe Family hosts and take in children in crisis and it sounds like it would be a good match for you guys at some point! It is a more casual arrangement than foster parenting because typically mom has reached out for help because of a situation like temporary homelessness, needing to go to rehab, jail, being hospitalized, etc and doesn't have a support system. We get the call and take in kiddo as well as minister to mom but mom retains custody the whole time. It's an awesome organization that I'd be a huge advocate of even if I wasn't a family host. Check them out :) http://www.safe-families.org/

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    1. I have heard of them, we actually have used them before for a family who needed something a little more structured than how we usually do things . . . Thanks for the link/resource (and for what you do!) :-)

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  7. love this. and your little family that always has a place for one more.

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  8. i've tried to leave a comment twice, but the truth is you have left me speechless, thinking about my own high horse.
    so i'll give you a humble thank you and leave it at that.
    {also, i really love your heart.}

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    1. Thanks girl. Also, we for sure need to hang out soon!

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  10. Wow, great post and one that I must share with my husband. I don't know that our family is complete and I don't know exactly what that means....foster, adoption, etc. Thanks for your beautiful words and inspiration!

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    1. Aw thank you! And I'll be praying for you guys as you explore God's leading for your family!

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  11. Your words are beautiful, you are beautiful and the life you live is beautiful.

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  12. Could you go ahead and rig something up where all your posts automatically post to my timelines and walls and such? I end up sharing them, anyway. :)
    xo

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    1. Yes let's do that :-) and ill so the same for yours. I was basically thinking earlier today about your exact post, before I even read it. Freaky.

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  13. Yes, yes, yes! This is beautiful and true. I love what you are doing.

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  14. Hi Becca - I'm a fairly new follower. I found you through Shannan of Flower Patch Farmgirl (who I ABSOLUTEY LOVE and get so much inspiration from). I just wanted to pop in and say hello and let you know how much your posts touch my heart. I am a single mother of 3 girls . . . it's NOT easy. You are a blessing to each and every parent you assist. Believe me, you truly are a gift to them. I can't imagine being 18 and doing this. And, I recently divorced after 25 years (although I was a single mom even during those 25 years - long story). Just know that you are an inspiration and a gift. God is using you and your strengths, and you are doing His work to the glory of His Son! God Bless you and your family! Please continue to share . . . it is so nice to read such uplifting thoughts and see the work of HIM who was born cold in a stable so that we can live in grace, knowing He saved us. We truly are blessed! Thank you, again for sharing!
    Hugs ~~
    jean

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  15. Your spirit is so beautiful, Becca.

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  16. Becca,
    Thanks for sharing. So beautifully written. I linked this post to my blog and shared your beautiful words that I so deeply identify with. Thank you! You are spot on. Foster care IS hard as are most things God calls us to. God has not called us to lead easy comfortable (complacent) lives. Keep it up. Praise the Lord for technology and the encouragement we can find in like-minded believers all over the world!
    notofourhands.blogspot.com
    "Mrs. T."

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  17. Thank you for sharing this. I don't care about the formalities of your arrangements, and I am fairly certain Jesus wouldn't either. You are doing as we've been instructed, with such grace: loving your neighbor. Thank you.

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  18. Thank you for sharing. Your beautiful words were encouraging to this weary foster momma on the tail end of a rough week.

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  19. I had honestly wondered about Zack and Amir. I don't think it matters if they are "yours" but the fact that you offer them another place to call home, is amazing. We always talk of fostering/ adopting and I just love this post. You guys are very inspirational.

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